CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- At least some Republicans in West Virginia's House of Delegates believe their failed bid to block proposed magistrate court pay raises, and similar partisan clashes that are expected as the session continues, will pay off in the next election.
The GOP's net 11-seat gain in November, increasing their ranks to 46 of 100 delegates, proved insufficient when the House voted 53-45 Wednesday to pass the pay bill to the Senate. With two Democrats absent, three Republicans broke ranks to support the measure while two Democrats opposed it.
A similarly narrow vote spoiled a Monday attempt by Republicans to derail the bill through a parliamentary procedure. With the session not even two weeks old, the pair of pitched battles over this measure may set the session's tempo for the divided House.
"Is this the way this session is going to be, all year?" House Majority Whip Mike Caputo asked in a floor speech blasting Republicans over Monday's unsuccessful gambit. The Marion County Democrat also said that he had never before seen that parliamentary motion attempted in his 17 years in the Legislature.
But that tone may work fine for Republicans seeking to add to their recent gains in 2014, and perhaps erase the Democrats' majority after 82 years.
Delegate Larry Faircloth emailed fellow GOP lawmakers ahead of Wednesday's vote to tout a game plan with an eye to the next election. A copy of the email was forwarded to The Associated Press. The Berkeley County freshman wrote that party allies had sent a press release to more than 40,000 state voters, to spur them to warn bill supporters that they would vote for their opponents in two years if they helped pass the bill.
Faircloth referred to the online campaign as an Internet "sniper attack" in his email.
"[It's] used to reach a point anonymously and efficiently without getting [one's] hands dirty," the email said.